Facts and Tips

Waste Facts

The average person in Pennsylvania generates 4.8 pounds of solid waste per day or 1,752 pounds per year!! (Pennsylvania Resource Council)

3% of America's energy is used for producing packaging (PA DEP).

One pound of recycled steel saves 5.450 BTU's of energy or 26 hours of a 60-watt bulb (PA DEP).

Americans throw away enough paper every year to build a 12 feet high wall from Los Angeles to New York (Environmental Defense).

Recycling Tips / Hints

Wash all bottles and container, this prevents contamination and keeps insects away.

Throw the caps away.

Put your newspapers in a paper bag or tie them in bundles.

Do not place broken glass in recycling.

Be sure what your trash hauler accepts. Contact their customer service department and ask them to send you information about what they recycle.

Recycled Glass

Recycled glass can be used to make new glass bottles and jars, insulation, and construction materials, such as road aggregate. Artisans use recycled glass for everything from jewelry to stained glass to vases. Recycled glass can be used forever.

When we recycle one ton of glass, we save one ton of resources. Not only do we save resources by recycling glass, we reduce air pollution. Producing one ton of new glass creates 27.8 pounds of air pollution, while processing recycled glass produces 14-20% less air pollution. In addition, glass can be recycled forever!! (Environmental Systems of America, Inc.)

Recycled Metals

Did you know? It takes 500 years for an aluminum can to decompose. The most valuable of household recycled materials, aluminum, steel, and bimetal materials, are collected as part of the residential recycling program.

One recycled can saves enough electricity to light a 100-watt bulb for 3.5 hours (PA DEP). Using recycled aluminum saves 80% of the total energy consumed when aluminum is produced from scratch (Thoreau Center for Sustainability).

Steel and bimetals can also be efficiently recycled into new products such as canned products. Some steel from disposed vehicles has been used to make products for new vehicles. There are a number of ways that metal can be recycled and reused; it just takes a little creativity.

Recycled Paper

It can take up to five years for newspaper to decompose. One ton of paper saves 17 trees, 6,953 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil, 587 pounds of air pollution, 9 cubic yards of landfill space, and 4,077 Kilowatt hours of energy (Environmental Systems of America, Inc.).

For many people recycled paper is used every day. Recycled paper is used for toilet paper, paper towels, newspaper, and office paper.

In addition to household products, recycled paper is used for construction materials, such as insulation, wallboard, flooring, padding, and more. Recycled paper is also repulped and molded into egg cartons, fruit trays, and flower pots.

Recycled Plastic

There are several types of plastic. The most commonly recycled plastics are high density polyethylene (HDPE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE). HDPE (plastic marked with a "2") is the colored or opaque plastic usually used for things like laundry detergent bottles and milk jugs. PET (plastic marked with a "1") is the clear plastic usually used for things like soda bottles and cleaning products. Other plastics are recycled less frequently, such as the plastic used for grocery bags.

Earth-Wise Shopping

To maintain recycling programs, people should purchase items made of recycled products. By purchasing recycled products, you are "closing the loop". Not only do you save energy and resources, but you also promote the recycling market.

Buying in bulk and with less packaging is one way to reduce waste. Watch out for bulk items that have individually wrapped items inside; buying these products does not help reduce waste.

Avoid buying one-time use products, such as paper plates, plastic forks, etc.

Consider using canvas bags or similar reusable bags when shopping. Buy products that are reusable. It can take many years for a plastic bag to decompose.

You can also bring your used plastic or paper bags back to the grocery store so they can be used a few more times before they go into the trash or into recycling boxes.

For more information about recycled products check out the Pennsylvania Resource Council's "Buyer's Guide to Recycled Products," or call 1-800-GO-TO-PRC.

Reuse Office Paper

Office paper can be reused by bringing the paper to a printer who can bind the papers into pads for internal office use (taking notes, sketches, etc.). Typical 8.5 inch by 11 inch sheets of paper can be made into a variety of recycled paper pads: 8.5" by 11", 5.5" by 8.5", and 4.25" by 5.5".